Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Hungary | Zsa Zsa Gabor | Csoma de Körös

Zsa Zsa Gabor, arguably the world’s most famous Hungarian, has transmigrated at the age of ninety-nine. Born Sari Gabor in Budapest in 1917, the former Miss Hungary (1936) was one of the first celebrities to become famous for being famous. “If there had been no Zsa Zsa, there probably would be no Kim Kardashian,” intones USA Today. But let’s not hold that against her. Gabor was famously married nine times, once to Conrad Hilton, Paris Hilton’s great-grandfather. Another of her husbands was Jack Ryan, who is credited with designing the Barbie doll for toy-maker Mattel. Draw your own conclusions. The tart-tongued temptress liked to brag that she was a great housekeeper; after each of her divorces she got to keep the house. After slapping a police officer, for which she got a 72 hour jail sentence, she explained,  “I admit I have a Hungarian temper. Why not? I am from Hungary. We are descendants of Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun.” Another famous quote: “Personally, I know nothing about sex, because I have always been married.” She was also a pop culture icon immortalized in Dion’s 1963 hit “Donna The Prima Donna”:
She wears diamonds and pearls galore
She buys them at the five-and-ten cent store
She wants to be just like Zsa Zsa Gabor
Even though she’s just Donna next door.
Zsa Zsa (1917–2016): Descendant of Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun

The second most famous Hungarian, in my opinion at least, is Csoma de Körös (1784–1842). He was a full-blown eccentric who devoted his entire life to the pursuit of arcane knowledge. As the Russian theosophist and New Age Fairy God Mother Madame Helena Blavatsky noted, “a poor Hungarian, Csoma de Körös, not only without means, but a veritable beggar, set out on foot for Tibet, through unknown and dangerous countries, urged only by the love of learning and the eager wish to shed light on the historical origin of his nation. The result was that inexhaustible mines of literary treasures were discovered.” Among the written works unearthed were the first descriptions of the legendary Buddhist Realm of Shambhala to reach the Occident.
See Eccentric Hungarian Wanderer-Scholar Csoma de Körös and the Legend of Shambhala.

Uzbekistan | Bukhara Oasis | Khwajagan | #1 Ghujdawani

 According to Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani:
The designation of the Naqshbandi Golden Chain has changed from century to century. From the time of Abu Bakr as Siddiq [573 CE–634 CE, a companion and father-in-law of Muhammad and the first Muslim Caliph following Muhammad’s death] to the time of Bayazid al-Bistami [804–c.874] it was called as-Siddiqiyya. From the time of Bayazid to the time of Adb al-Khaliq al-Ghujdawani it was called the at-Tayfuriyya. From the time of  Adb al-Khaliq al-Ghujdawani to the time of Shah Naqshbandi it was called the Khwajaganiyya. From the time of Naqshband through the time of Ubayd Allah al-Ahrar and Almad Faruqi, it was called Naqshbandiyya . . . And today it is known by the name Naqshbandiyya-Haqqaniyya.
It is the Seven Khwajagan, or Masters of Wisdom, all of whom were born in the Bukhara conurbation, who concern us here. These are:
  1. Al-Ghujdawani (d.1179)
  2. Arif ar-Riwakri (d.1219)
  3. Mahmud al-Injir al-Faghnawi (d. 1315)
  4. Ali ar-Ramitani (d.1315/1321)
  5. Muhammad Baba as-Samasi (d.1354)
  6. Sayyid Amir Kulal (d.1370)
  7. Muhammad Bahauddin Shah Naqshband (1318–1389)
The Bukhara Khwajagan were buried in the Bukhara Oasis and today their tombs are pilgrimage sites. Ghujdawani was born and buried in the city of Ghujdawan, twenty-seven miles northeast of Bukhara. 
 Tomb of Ghujdawani with the Ulugh Beg Madrassa behind . . . For more see Seven Saints of Bukhara: The Khwajagan, or Masters of Wisdom.

 (click on photo for enlargement)

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Friday, September 2, 2016

Turkey | Hasankeyf | Update

The NYTimes has an disturbing story about Hasankeyf, which I visited back in June of 2014. See Dam Project Threatens to Submerge Thousands of Years of Turkish History. Sound like the town itself could be submerged. The fate of the ancient ruins above the town is uncertain. Glad I got there when I did.
The town of Hasankeyf, on the banks for the Tigris River, from the ruins of the ancient city (click on photo for enlargement)

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Iran | Esfahan | Khaju Bridge

While in Esfahan I wandered by the 436-foot long Khaju Bridge, built by the Safavid king Shah Abbas II in the 1650s.
The Khaju  Bridge (click on photos for enlargements)
The Khaju  Bridge
The Khaju  Bridge
The Khaju  Bridge
The Khaju  Bridge
The Khaju  Bridge
The Khaju  Bridge
The Khaju  Bridge
The 25 foot wide roadway across the top of the bridge

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Greece | Rhodes Island | Rhodes Old Town | Landmarks and Sights

Like most of the Greek islands Rhodes has numerous layers of history dating back several thousand years. The oldest visible layer dates to the pre-Christian Hellenistic period.
Ruins of Temple of Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, dating to probably third century B.C. (click on images for enlargements)
Starting around the fifth century the island became part of the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Empire. Islamic Arabs and Turks seized the island at various times, but the Byzantines were able to regain control and remained the dominant force on the island until the beginning of the fourteenth century, when the Knights Hospitaller took over. 
 Byzantine ruins 
Ruins of the Byzantine Church of the Archangel Michael
Byzantine Church of Ag. Paraskevi
Byzantine Church of Ag. Spyridon
Detail of Byzantine Church of Ag. Spyridon
 The Knights Hospitaller Period of Rhodes history began in 1308 and lasted to 1522.  
 Knights Hospitaller Era Church of the Holy Trinity. As you probably know, the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—was in large part formulated by Gregory of Nazianzus, a.k.a. Gregory the Theologian (c. 329–390), who once lived in the Cappadocian village of Güzelyurt, which I wandered through not long ago. Gregory of Nazianzus and St. Basil of Kayseri  are also credited with laying the theological foundations of the Greek Orthodox Church.
 Church of the Holy Trinity
 Church of the Holy Trinity
 Knights Hospitaller Era Church of St. Artemios
 Ruins of the Church of Panagia tou Bourgou—Knights Hospitaller Era
Ruins of the Church of Panagia tou Bourgou— Knights Hospitaller Era
In 1522, after a long and protracted siege of the Walled City, the Ottoman Turks conquered Rhodes.  It remained part of the Ottoman Empire until 1912 when it was seized by Italy during the  Italo-Turkish War. Nazi Germany briefly controlled the town during World War II, but after the war, in 1947, the island became part of Greece.
Ottoman Era Suleiman Mosque
Ottoman Era Aga Mosque
 
Fort at the entrance to the harbor of Rhodes
Entrance to the harbor of Rhodes at dawn
Street Scene. No private cars are allowed in the Old Town. Most streets are not wide enough for them anyhow.
Street Scene
Street Scene
Street Scene
Many of the streets are paved with sea pebbles.
You might think the uneven surface of sea-pebble paved streets and walkways would provide firm footing. Actually, centuries of use have worn the pebbles as smooth as glass and in the morning when they are wet with dew or after a rain they are quite treacherous to walk on.
Street Scene
Street Scene
In the summer  Rhodes is one of party capitals of the Eastern Mediterranean, as hinted at by this graffiti on a park bench. 
There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of bars, nightclubs, and discos in Rhodes Old Town, but most of them are closed in wintertime. This place remains open all night for local worshipers of Dionysus, the current God of choice in Rhodes. When I went out for coffee at six in the morning there were still gangs of local women hanging around out front. Most sported multiple body piercings and some were festooned with chains. At the Open/24/7 bakery where I breakfasted on coffee and chocolate croissants the baker on duty often offered me a complimentary shot of Ouzo from his personal bottle he kept behind the counter. He said it was the Greek way to start the day.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Greece | Island of Rhodes | Rhodes Old Town | Old Town Walls

The wall build around the Old Town of Rhodes by the Knights Hospitaller is about 1.8 miles in circumference. There are eleven gates in the wall. 
Old Town Wall (click on image for enlargements)
One of the Gates in the Wall
One of the Gates in the Wall
One of the Gates in the Wall
One of the Gates in the Wall
Detail of the Gate
One of the Gates in the Wall
Detail of the Gate
One of the Gates in the Wall
One of the Gates in the Wall
Detail of the Gate
Wall on the seaward side
Fortification built into the wall
Fortification built into the wall
Fortification built into the wall
The outer wall to right, in from of the higher outer wall
A section of the outer wall
Inner wall on right
The outer wall to right, in front of the higher outer wall
One of the bastions in the wall
Stone cannonballs left from over various sieges of Rhodes by the Ottoman Turks. The city was finally seized by the Ottomans in 1522. 
Turkish cannonballs